Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 5:00 AM
By Terri Mrosko
Amber Martin was working various part-time positions when she decided to target a job in the healthcare field. Today she works as a cardiac monitoring technician in the central monitoring unit, a Cleveland Clinic satellite facility that is located in Beachwood.
“I felt that the medical field offered job security in this economy. There’s always a need to fill in health care,
Amber Martin, caregiver and cardiac monitoring technician, Cleveland Clinic | George Shuba Photographyand I thought it would be a great start for me,” said Martin.
Martin had no previous medical training before enrolling in an eight-week course at Cleveland State University to become an electrocardiogram technician.
Martin works alongside people with a variety of healthcare backgrounds, including nurses, paramedics and firefighters. She helps monitor patients who are located at the Main Campus and outlying facilities such as South Pointe Hospital and Fairview Hospital.
Each station can monitor up to 48 patients, Martin said. In addition to working with cardiac patients, technicians work with pediatric, geriatric, surgical step-down, leukemia, and bone transplant patients, as well as the pulmonary and neurology units.
“We are like a second set of eyes for nurses,” Martin stated. “To have the satisfaction of knowing that we help save lives makes the job so worth it. I couldn’t image doing anything else right now.”
Technicians also monitor vitals as blood pressure, pulse oximetry levels, respiratory rates, and ventilator alarms. They identify and document heart rhythms and report any changes. They are also on the watch for life-threatening arrhythmias and significant changes in blood pressure and respiratory rates.
“Knowing that I have the opportunity to save lives is one of the things that I like best about the job,” Martin said. “Our unit’s motto is ‘one call, one life.’ It takes one phone call for us to make a difference or chance to save somebody’s life.”
Martin also likes the work hours that go with the job. She works three 12-hour shifts per week, which gives her more free time to continue some of her other part-time endeavors. She is also considering going back to school in the future, possibly to pursue becoming a pharmacy technician.
What it takes to succeed in the career
Having patience is one of the most important soft skills a cardiac monitoring technician can possess, Martin said. The environment can get hectic at times, so one must be able to handle stressful situations. Martin also recommended that a person have good interpersonal skills and the ability to multitask. Keeping a positive attitude and being a team player are also essential traits for the job.
The job requires manual and finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination to perform computer functions. The position also entails working under stressful conditions and often irregular hours.
Martin said that working as a cardiac monitoring technician is a great place to start in the medical field. There is also a lot of room for advancement and continuing educational
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who are trained in more advanced Holter monitoring and stress testing are expected to have more favorable job prospects than those who can perform only at the more basic EKGs. The Labor Department also reports that job prospects will be best for those with multiple professional credentials or those who are trained to perform a wide range of procedures.
For more information
There are no national requirements for cardiac monitoring technicians to obtain certification. However, students who wish to continue with their education and become cardiovascular technologists are eligible to sit for the Certified Cardiographic Technician exam. The exam is offered through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International organization. More information is available at www.cci-online.org.
For those who are interested in a cardiac monitoring technician job, a high school diploma or equivalent is required, as well as experience in or knowledge of cardiac and/or electrocardiogram interpretation. Those with licenses or who are certified as an EMT, registered nurse, medical assistant, or cardiovascular technician, or those who have similar previous experience, are also eligible for employment as a cardiac monitor technician.